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be overlooked, but as it difpofeth to an ill life otherwise, so God readily pays it home, so as the lin may be read in the punishment.
Secondly, I come to consider the duty of parents to their children; and I may take up this under five heads, viz. while they are yet in the womb, while in their infancy, from the time they come to the use of reason, at all times, and when a-dying.
1. The duty which parents owe to their children while yet in the womb.
ift, Parents are obliged to use all care for the prefervation of the child, to beware of any thing that may harm the child in the belly, and especially that inay procure abortion, Judg. xiii. 4.
2dly, Dealing with God in behalf of the child, praying for its preservation, and for its foul as soon as it is known to be a living foul. I think that no sooner should the mother or father know a living foul to be in the womb, but as soon with Rebekah they should go to God for it, Gen. xxv. 21. 22. If Hannah could de vote her child to God before it was conceived, 1 Sam. i. 11. Christian parents may and ought to devote their children to God when quickened in the womb. Whoso neglect this consider not that then the child is a finful creature, under the wrath of God and the curse of the law; that it is capable of sanctification, must live for ever in heaven or hell, and that possibly it may never see the light. Lastly, Labouring by all means that it may
be born within the covenant; which is to be done by parents making sure their own being within the covenant; for so runs the promise, I will be thy God, and the God of thy feed. 2. The duty they owe to them in their infancy.
1/1, Parents should bless God for them when they are born, Luke i. 67. &c. Children are God's heritage; the key of the womb is in his hand; he gives them to some, and with holds them from others; and
they hould be received with thankfulness from the Lord's hand.
2 dly, Giving them up to the Lord as soon as they are born, renewing the dedication of them to God, and accepting of the covenant for them; and procuring to them the seal of the covenant without any unnecessary delay. Under the Old Testament infants were to receive the seal on the eighth day. Now there is no set time, but common equity bids take the first opportunity, and not delay it needlessly. The undue . delay of circumcision was punished in Moses, Exod. iv. 24. ; and the delay of baptism cannot but be displeasing to God too, as a flighting of his ordinance.
3dly, Tender care of them, doing all things necefsary for them, while they are not capable to do for themselves, 11. xlix. 15. And here it is the duty, of the mother to nurse the child herself, if she be able, Hof. ix. 14.
And this care of infants, the burden of which lies moft on the mothers, is one great piece of their generation-work, wherein they are useful for God, and which they ought to look on as special service for their comfort in the trouble which therein they have.
3. The duties they owe to them from the time they come to the use of reason, and so forward.
If, They are to provide for them, and that aye and until they be in a capacity to provide for them. selves, 1 Tim. v. 8. This arises from the natural obligation and instinct that is common to men with beasts; whereof the wildest will feed their young till they be able to do for themselves. Thus parents are, (1.) To provide suitable maintenance for their children for the present, and to lay out themselves for it, though with the sweat of their brows. (2.) And, as God profpers them, they are to lay up something for them, 2.Cor. xii. 14.; for though the possession be their parent's entirly, yet he is stinted to the use of a part, according to what is necessary. Only no man is to take from present necessities for future provisions į but
what God has given, let men take the comfortable use of it; and what remains, let them lay by for their children, Eccl. ii. 18. 19. 24. But for people to deny themselves things necessary and comely, that they may lay them up for their children, is a curse; and if their children should follow their example, to deny hemselves the use thereof, to transmit them to theirs, the use of it should never be had : but ordinarily what the parents narrowly gather, and keep so as they cannot take the convenient use of it themselves, the children quickly run through,
2dly, Civil education, that they may, be useful members of the commonwealth. This we may take up
in these three things. (1.) Parents should polish the rude natures of their children with good manners, so as they may carry comely and discreetly before themselves or others, Prov. xxxi. 28. It is the dishonour of parents to see children rude and altogether unpolished as young beasts ; and religion is an enemy to rudeness and ill manners, i Pet. iii. 8.
(2.) 'They should give them learning according to their ability, and see that at least they be taught to read the Bible, 2 Tim. iii. 15. What is it that makes so many ignorant old people, but that their parents have neglected this? But where parents have neglected this, grace and good nature would make a thift to supply this defect.
(3.) They should train them up to do fomething in the way of some honeft employment, whereby they may be useful to themselves or others. To nourish children in idleness is but to prepare them for prisons or correction houses, or to be plagues to fome one fa. mily or another, if providence do not mercifully interpose, Prov. xxxi. 27. Christians fhould train up their daughters to do virtuously, ver. 29. For their own fakes let them be capable to make their hands fufficient for them, seeing none know what ftraits they may
be brought to. And for the sake of others to whom they may be joined, let them be virtuously, frugally, and actively educated, otherwise what they bring with them will hardly quit the cost of the milchief that their unthristiness and filliness will produce, Prov. xiv. 3. Whether ye can give them fomething or nothing, let them not want Ruth's portion, a good name, a good head, and good hands, Ruth iii. 11. Sons should be brought up to some honest employment, whereby they may be worth their room in the world, Gen. iv. 2. This is such a necessary piece of parents duty to their children, that the Athenians had a law, That if a fon was brought up to no calling at all, in case his father should come to poverty, he was not bound to maintain him, as otherwise he was.
3dly, Religious education, Eph. vi. 4. If parents provide not for their children, they are worse than bealts to their young; if they give them not civil education, they are worse than Heathens; but if they add not religious education, what do they more than civilized Heathens? When God gives thee a child, he fays as Pharaoh's daughter to Moses's mother, Take this child and nurse it for me, Exod. ii. 9. Though we be but fathers of their flesh, we must be careful of their souls, otherwise we ruin them.
(1.) Parents ought to instruct their children in the principles of religion, and to low the seeds of godliness in their hearts, as soon as they are able to speak, and have the use of reason, Deut. vi. 6. 7. Such early religious education is a blessed mcan of grace, 1 Kings xviii. 12. compare ver. 3. Not only is this the duty of fathers, who should teach their children, Prov. iv. 3.4. but of mothers, who, while the children are young about their hand, Tould be dropping fomething to them for their souls good. Solomon had not only his father's leffon, but the prophecy his mother taught -him, Prov. xxxi. 1. See chap. i. 8.
(2.) They should labour for that end to acquaint them with the scriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 15. to cause
them to read them. Let the reading of their chapters be a piece of their daily task; and cause thein read the scriptures in order, that they may be acquainted both with the precepts and histories of the Bible. Let them be obliged to learn their catechisia, and catechise them yourselves according to your ability: For teaching by way of question and answer is most easy for them.
(3.) If they ask you any questions concerning these things, do not discourage them, but take pains to answer all their questions, however weakly they may be proposed, Deut. vi. 20. 21. Children are often found to have very milhapen notions of divine things; but if they were duly encouraged to speak, they might vent their thoughts, which parents thus get occalion to rectify.
4thly, Labour to deter them from sin. The neglect of this was Eli's fin, for which God judged his house, i Sam. iii. 13. Endeavour to poffess their hearts with an abhorrence of sinful practices, and a dread of them. Carefully check their lying, swearing, curling or banning, and fabbath-breaking. If they learn these while young, they will be fair to accompany them to gray hairs. Let them not dare to meddle with what is an. other man’s, if it were not worth a farthing. Encourage them in taking up little things, and they may come in time to bring themselves to an ill end, and you to disgrace.
5thly, Stir them up to the duties of holiness, and the practice of religion. Often inculcate on them the doctrine of their fintul and miserable state by nature, and the remedy provided in Chrift. Shew them the necessity of holiness, pointing out Christ to them as the fountain of sanctificationCommend religion to them, and press them to the study of it, as the main thing they have to do in the world, Prov. iv.
4. 6thly, Pray with them, and teach them to pray. For this cause let not the worship of God be neglect. ed in your families; but for your childrens fake main.